November 15, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Deputy Defense Minister: Islamic Jihad Needs to "Understand that They Can't Shoot at Israel Whenever They Want" - Lahav Harkov (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Avi Dichter said Thursday that the targeted killing of Baha Abu al-Ata was necessary in order to create a deterrent against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) attacking Israel, because that deterrence had weakened.
    "Al-Ata planned rocket attacks and all the attempts to prevent them didn't succeed, so we had to take him out," Dichter said.
    "We had to make sure PIJ would understand that they can't shoot at Israel whenever they want."
    That Hamas stayed out of the fighting this week shows that Israel has strongly deterred it, he added.
    "We finished this round with zero killed and very few lightly injured...but when you look at the expectations of the other side, what PIJ wanted, they wanted blood and death here in Israel. They shot over 400 rockets to kill Israelis."

Gen. Yadlin: "Islamic Jihad Took a Very Hard Hit" - Adam Rasgon (Times of Israel)
    Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin, former head of IDF Military Intelligence and director of the Institute for National Security Studies, said:
    "Islamic Jihad took a very hard hit. It lost its main commander in Gaza and 12 to 15 key activists who would launch rockets. It did not achieve what it wanted or what it could describe as a victory."
    "Is Islamic Jihad collapsing? No. They still have enough terrorists and they have many rockets."

Video: Islamic Jihad Is a Threat to the People of Gaza and Israel (Israel Defense Forces)
    Islamic Jihad fired rockets hitting Gazan buildings. Israel's Iron Dome successfully intercepted 90% of rockets fired at Israeli civilians.

Israeli Musicians Entertain Those Stuck in Shelters near Gaza - Hannah Brown (Jerusalem Post)
    Several of Israel's most popular musicians donated their time and talent to entertaining those stuck in shelters during the recent rocket attacks by Islamic Jihad.
    Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai made a surprise visit to a wedding in Beersheba and sang to the couple. Singer/songwriter Natan Goshen and Eurovision contestant Harel Skaat performed in shelters in Netivot.

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Russia Sets Up New Air Base in Former U.S. Syria Stronghold (Moscow Times-Russia)
    The Russian military has announced a new combat helicopter and air defense base outside Qamishli, the administrative center of the Kurdish autonomy in northern Syria, TASS reported Thursday.

Iranian Businessman Sentenced to Prison for Violating U.S. Sanctions (U.S. Department of Justice)
    Behzad Pourghannad was sentenced Wednesday to 46 months in prison for participating in a conspiracy to export carbon fiber from the U.S. to Iran between 2008 and 2013 in violation of U.S. sanctions.
    Carbon fiber is used by the Iranian regime to further its nuclear, military, and aerospace programs.

Europe Failing to Implement EU Settlement Labeling Directive, Study Shows - Raphael Ahren (Times of Israel)
    Only 10% of wines from the West Bank and the Golan Heights located across the continent by the European Middle East Project (EuMEP), a nonprofit critical of the settlements, were labeled according to the instructions issued by the European Commission in November 2015.

Blue Flag 2019: Israel Hosts Four Air Forces for Drills - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The fourth bi-annual Blue Flag aerial exercise hosted by the Israeli Air Force completed two weeks of advanced drills on Nov. 14.
    Aircraft from the U.S. (12 F-16s), Greece (four F-16s), Germany (six Eurofighters), and Italy (six Eurofighters, six F-35s and one G550) took part along with dozens of Israeli aircraft.

U.S. Human Rights Group Sued for Funding Palestinian Arson Balloon Terror - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    A $90 million U.S. lawsuit filed Wednesday charges the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) with financing hundreds of acts of environmental terrorism along Israel's border with Gaza.
    The suit was filed in federal court in Washington by the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) and 12 American citizens living in Israel.

The Dead Sea Relentlessly Contracts - Sue Surkes (Times of Israel)
    Israel's Regional Development Ministry reports that since 1976, the Dead Sea's surface area has almost halved and its elevation has dropped more than 40 meters.
    This retreat has exposed more than 300 sq. km. of seabed, and today the area is peppered with 7,000 sinkholes. Buildings, agricultural areas and beaches have been abandoned.
    In 2013, Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority agreed upon a Red Sea to Dead Sea pipeline that will convey seawater and the salty byproduct of a new desalination plant in Aqaba to the lake to arrest its decline.
    The project will cost Israel more than $1 billion, but it is of no economic value to Israel.
    It mainly benefits Jordan, and it will require Israel to purchase costly desalinated water from Aqaba when it already can desalinate water from the Mediterranean Sea for much less.

Israel's Eviation Lands More Customers as Electric Plane Orders Top 150 - Christopher Jasper (Bloomberg)
    Israeli electric-plane startup Eviation Aircraft Ltd. says it has signed up two more American customers for its pioneering commuter aircraft, taking the order backlog to more than 150 planes.
    Eviation is betting the all-electric, 9-passenger Alice, with a 650-mile range, will attract buyers in a commuter market served by light aircraft.
    Running costs will be $200 per flight hour versus $1,000 for a turboprop, though the model will be slower than some conventional craft.
    Eviation expects its first flight next year, with U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification in 2022, according to CEO Omer Bar-Yohay.
    Work is already taking place on installing charging infrastructure for initial customer Cape Air, a regional airline with operations in New York and New England.
    See also Video: Eviation Unveils Electric Alice Aircraft at 2019 Paris Air Show (Aviation International News)

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Pompeo: U.S. Will Continue to Lead Fight Against ISIS
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told foreign ministers and senior officials from 30 members of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS on Thursday in Washington, "You all know we must keep taking the fight to ISIS. So do we. The United States will continue to lead the Coalition, and the world, on this essential security effort."
        "Today we're watching the space once occupied by this fraudulent caliphate like a hawk. That's why we're maintaining our residual presence at Tanf, in southern Syria, and our capacity to conduct air operations. We've repositioned some of our troops in northeast Syria and in the broader region as well, to make sure that ISIS will never get a second wind and to prevent ISIS from recapturing the oil fields."
        "This Coalition...has been one of the most successful multilateral undertakings of the century. We beat back a jihadist dream - a would-be terror state in the center of the Middle East - and we saved millions of people from tyranny unlike anything that the world has seen."  (U.S. Department of State)
  • U.S. Threatens Egypt with Sanctions over Russian Arms Deal - Vivian Salama
    The U.S. warned Egypt on Wednesday of possible sanctions over Cairo's decision to buy more than 20 Russian Su-35 jet fighters. "Major new arms deals with Russia would - at a minimum - complicate future U.S. defense transactions with and security assistance to Egypt," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wrote to Egypt's defense minister. The U.S. has provided Egypt with billions in military and economic aid in recent decades, including sales of F-16 jet fighters and attack helicopters.
        The letter was sent as Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Cairo for talks about military cooperation. A U.S. law called the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA, targets transactions with Russia's military and defense industry. The letter warns of "Egypt's risk of being sanctioned under this law if it accepts delivery of major new Russian military equipment."  (Wall Street Journal)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Islamic Jihad Breaks Ceasefire Thursday, Israel Responds - Judah Ari Gross
    Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fired four volleys of rockets at Israel from Gaza on Thursday. In response, Israel struck PIJ targets in Gaza early Friday. Palestinian sources said 34 Gazans were killed this week, many from Islamic Jihad. 58 Israelis were injured. (Times of Israel)
  • Hamas: Islamic Jihad Doesn't Get to Decide for Us about War with Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
    Hamas' failure to join the fighting with Israel was one of the main reasons why Palestinian Islamic Jihad agreed to the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, Palestinians said Thursday. The heavy casualties PIJ suffered also contributed to the decision, they said.
        Palestinian political analysts claimed that Israel relayed a message to Hamas through Egyptian intelligence officials shortly after the targeted killing of Baha Abu al-Ata that the IDF would not target Hamas if it did not fire rockets at Israel. Hamas officials responded that any decision to go to war with Israel should be taken by all Palestinian factions in Gaza, and not by one alone.
        Hamas is already facing growing discontent over its failure to improve living conditions, and the last thing it needs is another war that would further undermine its rule. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Why Hamas Stayed Out of the Fighting in Gaza - Ron Ben-Yishai
    Hamas stayed out of the recent fighting in Gaza because Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar didn't want to abandon the agreement they made with Israel, the money they get from Qatar, or the American hospital being built in Gaza simply to avenge the death of a reckless Islamic Jihad commander. Sinwar knew better than anyone how challenging Abu al-Ata was to deal with, and how much he hampered Hamas' ability to govern Gaza effectively. (Ynet News)
  • Hamas, Israel Keep from Fighting Each Other - Avi Issacharoff
    On Thursday one could discern indications of unprecedented cooperation between Israel and Hamas. For the first time, Israeli security forces distinguished clearly between Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Previously when Islamic Jihad fired at Israel, Israel announced time and again that it held Hamas responsible for every escalation originating from Gaza.
        The Hamas decision to stay out of this round is no less dramatic. This time, it would appear that Hamas was only too happy about Israel's elimination of serial troublemaker Abu al-Ata. Hamas was prepared to ignore the fatalities in Gaza since almost all of them were members of Islamic Jihad. This might open the path to a longer period of calm with Gaza. (Times of Israel)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Shame on Europe for Engaging in a Double Standard toward Israel - Editorial
    The European Union's Court of Justice decided this week that products made in Judea and Samaria cannot be labeled "made in Israel." The labeling decision also applies to products of eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, even though those areas are under Israeli sovereignty. This decision is an outrage.
        This singling out of Israel is exactly what Natan Sharansky meant when he wrote in 2004 of the "three Ds" distinguishing anti-Semitism from legitimate criticism of Israel: delegitimization of Israel, demonization of Israel, and subjecting Israel to double standards. There is no similar labeling mandate for other areas under territorial conflict, like Tibet, Northern Cyprus or Western Sahara.
        Europeans have a long history of telling Jews where they can - and more often, can't - live, and with whom they can do business, going back centuries. And by declaring Jewish businesses in Judea and Samaria as illegitimate, the EU is acceding to the Palestinian-driven idea that certain spots on the map need to be "Judenrein," free of Jews. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Hamas Conducts an Independent Foreign Policy - Zvi Bar'el
    Hamas' top standing in Gaza is due to more than just the amount of weaponry in its possession and its intensive policing of the population. Hamas conducts an independent foreign policy as if it were a state. In 2012, its high command left Syria over its critical stance against the Assad regime, a step that led to a long break with Iran. Egypt under President Morsi from the Muslim Brotherhood, whom Hamas helped escape from an Egyptian prison, opened Egypt up to Hamas. Turkey gave it a strong financial framework, as did Qatar.
        Hamas has kept developing its relations with Egypt, culminating in the near-full reopening of the Rafah border crossing. The Hamas leadership's pledge to prevent the passage of militants from the Sinai terror groups into Gaza, where they had previously been given refuge and aid, and its strict inspection of those entering and leaving via the Rafah crossing, created something like a security pact between Hamas and Egypt, despite the criticism from Salafi organizations in Gaza that Hamas had become the Egyptian border patrol.
        Islamic Jihad maintained ties with Iran until 2015, when Tehran reduced its aid by 90% because Islamic Jihad refrained from sending forces and military instructors to the Houthis in Yemen. In 2016, with mediation by Hizbullah, relations between Islamic Jihad and Iran were repaired, and Tehran gave it a new cash infusion, though not as large as before. Unlike Hamas, Islamic Jihad has not been able to create a network of political and economic ties with states in the region; it relies on private donations and the aid it continues to receive from Iran. (Ha'aretz)
  • Self-Defense for Everyone but Israel - Jonathan S. Tobin
    Israeli forces launched a surprise attack against a senior commander of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) in Gaza, Baha Abu al-Ata, a man whom Israel's security services rightly described as a "ticking time bomb." Anytime Israel does anything to defend its people or to cause terror groups to cease operations, its actions are perceived as provocative. That means that those who are calling on Israel not to hit known killers are essentially seeking to give immunity to those whose purpose is to terrorize Israelis and fuel the conflict.
        The true cycle of violence isn't one in which Israel is forever being blamed for causing trouble by killing terrorists, but the one in which Palestinians remain locked in a dynamic of endless war. This week's violence is one more reminder that the problem has everything to do with a toxic Palestinian political culture. (JNS)
  • Finding Terrorist Needles in the Internet Haystack - Nadav Shragai
    Arik Barbing served in the Israel Security Agency for 27 years, serving as head of the cyber division and as head of the Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria district. In his first interview, Barbing lays out his insights, discoveries, information, and memories of the war against terrorism.
        "About 60% of the unaffiliated individuals who carried out attacks in 2014-2017 were primarily motivated by personal problems, and with women, it was close to 90%," he said. "Sometimes they're the ugly duckling or the black sheep of their family. Sometimes it's disappointed love....For them, the terrorist attack becomes a way to improve their status in Palestinian society....They prefer to die by sacrificing their lives to Islam and their people, bringing honor to their families and the surroundings that currently reject them....Often, we make a point of publicizing these motives to gnaw away at the aspect of heroism."
        "The young generation of Palestinians are hooked up to all the digital platforms....The potential attackers leave 'digital signatures' online that characterize them: Likes on sites that support or glorify terrorism; repeated visits to sites of martyrs or sites that are heavy on incitement....At one end of this computerized system, there is always an analyst whose job it is to assess how dangerous that same youth is and recommend whether or not he be called in for questioning, or whether his parents should be called."
        "We need to gather posts, likes, responses, emojis, voice recordings, and technical symbols of places and times, rises and falls in the extent of [online] activity, new contacts, people joining suspect online communities. We comb the Internet and identify aberrant activity. That's how we identify alarms in a sea of information that traditional intelligence does not supply on individual attackers."
        Barbing recently published, with Capt. Or Glick, an in-depth article in the IDF magazine Between the Poles in which the two discuss deterring lone, unaffiliated terrorists. He thinks that demolishing terrorists' homes has proven to be effective. "There are dozens of cases that I know of personally in which fathers brought their sons to the Palestinian Authority or called the PA and said, 'My son is missing, I realized he's going to commit an attack, and I don't want them to demolish my home.'"  (Israel Hayom)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • Same Old Anti-Semitism, Different Jews - Yair Lapid
    I do not talk about the "return" of anti-Semitism, because it never left. It just waited for the right time to rise again. Anti-Semitism thinks this is its time. But while the anti-Semites might be the same as they always were, the Jews are not. We won't stay silent. We've got no intention of trying to appease them.
        The anti-Semites say, "the Jews are different from us, that's why we're allowed to attack them." Too many Jews in too many places say: "you are wrong, we're not different. All people are the same." It doesn't help because it isn't true. We are different. We have a different religion, we're part of an ancient and unique culture. There is a covenant between us. We're proud of it. Loving your brother isn't a crime. Being different isn't a crime.
        We don't need to pretend we're not different. We need to fight for the principle that you don't discriminate against people because they're different. You don't kill people because they're different. Anti-Semitism never admits to what it really is: xenophobia, which is simply the hatred of what you don't understand because you don't understand it.
        I'm no pacifist. I don't believe in facing hate with love. You don't fight hate with love, but with organizational ability, clear messaging, with determination and strength. You fight it in TV studios and on the battlefield. You fight it by telling the truth. It's not a debate about Israeli policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians. It's an ancient attempt to destroy a small and talented people that insists on maintaining their unique identity and unique voice.
        The writer is chairman of the Yesh Atid party in Israel's Knesset. This is from his speech to the European Leadership Network (ELNET) International Policy Conference in Paris on Nov. 9, 2019. (Times of Israel)
  • On the Frontlines of Progressive Anti-Semitism - Blake Flayton
    Many young Jews, myself included, can't imagine being anything other than political progressives. My place in such circles has always been welcomed and accepted - until now. As a sophomore at George Washington University, I now find myself pushed to the fringes of a movement I thought I was at the heart of because I am a Zionist. It is because I, like 95% of American Jews, support Israel.
        I didn't think there was a conflict between being both a progressive and a Zionist, given that progressives have long championed the liberation movements of downtrodden minorities. I view the establishment of the State of Israel as a fundamentally just cause: the most persecuted people in human history finally gaining the right of self-determination after centuries of displacement, intimidation, violence and genocide.
        But the progressive activist crowd I encountered on campus have made it abundantly clear to me that any form of Zionism - even my own liberal variant - is a political nonstarter. Given that almost all American Jews identify as "pro-Israel," this intolerance affects huge numbers of young American Jews.
        On May Day, I attended a student rally for higher wages for the university's custodial staff. Then the organizers invited speakers from Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine. The gathering suddenly transformed from a "fair wages" rally to a "Free Palestine" rally. This is our new normal.
        While white supremacists plot to murder Jews across this country, "anti-Zionists" on college campuses seek to marginalize us as white supremacists. Casting Jews as white supremacists is call-out culture at its worst: Dare to disagree and you're denounced as your greatest domestic enemy. Progressives believe that words matter, and that words can soften the ground for violence. (New York Times)
  • How an American Rabbi and the Shah's Father Saved the Jews of Tehran from a Pogrom - Karmel Melamed
    On Sep. 4, 1922, a servant of a Tehran mullah was riding his donkey past the Jewish school in the Jewish ghetto when the school's custodian stopped the donkey to prevent it from colliding with a group of children as they were exiting the school. The servant returned home and told his master that his donkey was held up for a group of Jewish children. The Islamic cleric demanded retribution and called for a general strike in the city. Local thugs and hoodlums armed with sticks and clubs randomly beat up Jews in the street.
        The following day thousands of armed rioters surrounded Tehran's Jewish ghetto seeking vengeance. The Jews of Tehran turned for help to their co-religionist, the American Ambassador to Persia, Rabbi Joseph Saul Kornfeld, who asked for help from the minister of war, Reza Khan Pahlavi, reminding him of the international consequences of this incident. The minister dispatched the cavalry to the Jewish ghetto to break up the riot and calm was restored with no Jews being slaughtered.
        In 1925, Reza Khan took power and became the new king or Shah. Both he and his son Mohammad Reza Pahlavi were indeed benevolent to the Jews, offering them protection from physical attacks and harassment. The Jews lived in relative peace and prosperity until the 1979 revolution when Ayatollah Khomeini deposed the Shah. (Los Angeles Jewish Journal)

  • Weekend Features

  • IDF Soldier Meets Canadian Whose Life He Saved - Susan Minuk
    On Nov. 9 in Toronto, Israeli Eitan Zabow met with Canadian Jack Mandelker, whose life he saved with the help of Ezer Mizion, the not-for-profit organization that manages the world's largest bone marrow registry. The registry began in Israel in 1998 and has grown to include 999,268 potential donors, over half of whom are current or former IDF members. Mandelker received the stem cell transplant in 2016. Ezer Mizion has saved 3,263 lives around the world, including 57 in Canada.
        Mandelker said his "life was saved by somebody I didn't know existed, an organization working behind the scenes that I knew nothing about - that's a miracle."  (Canadian Jewish News)
  • Rediscovering the Novelist Who Foretold the Holocaust - Avner Shapira
    Novelist Ulrich A. Boschwitz has become the subject of heightened interest due to the rediscovery of his two novels - some 80 years after they were written and 75 years after Boschwitz died at 27 during World War II. Der Reisende (The Traveler), Boschwitz's second novel, was written soon after Kristallnacht in November 1938 and describes the travails of a Berlin Jew, the businessman Otto Silbermann, who has fled his home, attempting to escape his homeland.
        German publisher Peter Graf says the belated discovery of the novel is like finding a message in a bottle 80 years later. "What makes it so special is the fact that Boschwitz wrote it in this form after the pogrom in 1938 - he feverishly composed it over the course of one month....What he describes stands at the beginning of a cruel process. It's the beginning of physical violence, of systematic persecution, but it's also the moment when the dehumanization of German society takes shape, where barbarism begins."
        Boschwitz was in London at the outbreak of the war in 1939 and was arrested, as were most Germans who had fled to Britain, even if they were Jewish or opponents of the Nazi regime. In 1940, Boschwitz was sent to a prison camp in Australia for two years. When the refugees were released in 1942, he requested to return to Europe and was due to join British military intelligence. He set sail for England aboard the passenger ship Abosso. On Oct. 29, 1942, the ship was torpedoed by a German submarine and 362 passengers drowned including Boschwitz. (Ha'aretz)
  • Hitler's Teeth - Alexandra Popoff
    On May 8, 1945, Soviet military interpreter Elena Kagan was entrusted with a box that her superior in the SMERSH counterintelligence group told her contained Adolf Hitler's dentures and teeth. Elena, a Jew, described the situation in her book, Memoirs of a Wartime Interpreter. Because Hitler's remains were badly burned, the teeth, with abundant bridgework, crowns, and fillings, presented the most important anatomic means of identification.
        The search for Hitler's dentist, Dr. Hugo Blaschke, who had fled Berlin, led to his dental assistant, Kathe Heusermann, who had worked for Dr. Blaschke since 1937 and had assisted in extracting Hitler's teeth. She helped locate Hitler's dental records and X-rays, having guessed correctly that they were kept at the Fuhrerbunker, where they were found, surprisingly intact.
        Everything concerning the investigation of Hitler's death was a Soviet state secret. Elena's book, first published in Moscow in 1965, disclosed the secret. The book was only translated into English in 2018. (Tablet)

  • Linking U.S. military support for Israel to the decades-old Palestinian conflict would reverse the well-considered approach of President Barack Obama, who made a conscious decision to separate the strategic benefits of the U.S.-Israel alliance from the intractable peace process.
  • More importantly, it would ignore the pressing realities that currently confront American national security - in particular, the U.S. need to devote greater resources to countering China and Russia at the same time threats to its interests in the Middle East remain extremely challenging. In that environment, Israel's value as one of America's closest allies and the region's preeminent military and intelligence power is only likely to grow.
  • At no point during the three years of talks on the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding governing U.S. assistance to Israel signed in September 2016 did the U.S. team ever attempt to use military assistance as leverage to reduce Israel's objections to the nuclear deal with Iran or to change its approach to the Palestinian conflict.
  • Both sides appreciated the significant benefits that they gained from deepening their strategic ties and didn't want to hold them hostage to their disagreements over any specific policy issue. Indeed, in private, the U.S. and Israeli lead negotiators actually agreed to "rules of the game" for their talks - with the main rule being that neither the Iran issue nor the Palestinian question would be part of their discussions.
  • Israeli breakthroughs are rapidly finding their way into the U.S. national security arsenal and helping to protect American lives, including missile defense, cybersecurity, tunnel detection, drones, space and counter-terrorism technologies. No country has a greater capability (or will) to help protect U.S. interests than Israel.

    Professor Jacob Nagel, a former head of Israel's National Security Council and National Security Advisor (Acting), headed the Israeli team that negotiated the 2016 U.S.-Israel MOU.
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