November 22, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Report: Israel Jammed Russian Pantsir Air Defense Systems during Syria Airstrikes (UAWire)
    Syrian air defense systems failed to repel Israeli airstrikes earlier this week due to radar jamming by Israel.
    Video footage published by the Russian Telegram channel Gallifreyan Technology shows Pantsir guided missiles self-detonating without hitting their targets.

240 Congress Members Call on UN to Limit Hizbullah in Lebanon - Marcy Oster (JTA)
    240 Congress members have signed on to a bipartisan letter to the UN secretary-general calling for an international effort to limit the Hizbullah terror group.
    The letter was authored by Reps. Elaine Luria (D-VA), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Michael Waltz (R-FL).

Anti-Israel Protest at York University Turns Violent - Bryan Passifiume (Toronto Sun-Canada)
    Members of York University's Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA) on Wednesday attempted to shut down a school-sanctioned panel discussion with Reservists on Duty, an organization of former members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
    Videos showed SAIA protesters - some concealing their faces with keffiyeh scarves - inside York's Vari Hall shouting pro-Palestine slogans and waving Palestine flags.
    Ontario Premier Doug Ford expressed his disappointment with York University for allowing the "hate-filled protest."

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Can Hamas Be Tamed? - Hillel Frisch (Jerusalem Post)
    Israel's policy toward Hamas has been one which minimizes the sticks and maximizes the carrots for keeping the peace. Yet any carrots offered to Hamas will be used to enhance its military capabilities in the future.
    Rest assured that as the welfare of Gaza's population improves, Hamas will dig more and deeper tunnels and storage centers within Gaza itself, improve the firepower and payloads of its missiles, and try to dig offensive tunnels into Israel.
    This means scuttling the visions of those who argue that Israeli sticks should be accompanied by a Marshall Plan of goodies to improve the welfare of Gaza's inhabitants.
    That only worked after Germany and Japan were totally defeated and a mutual threat to the Western alliance, the Soviet Union, emerged.
    The writer is a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at its Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel Denial in the Academic World - Gerald M. Steinberg (Jerusalem Post)
    In Israel Denial, Cary Nelson, a professor of English from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and former president of the American Association of University Professors, takes on the most virulent Israel haters, exposing the allegation that "Israel is the world's worst violator of human rights."
    This allegation, he writes, "is manifestly obscene. It depends on the fantasy that Israel radiates evil well beyond its borders, empowering a new version of a Jewish aim to control the world."
    The core of the book consists of portraits of four individuals with no academic background in Middle East history, whose false declarations and irrational hatred often morph into crude anti-Semitism.
    It also includes discussion of courses dedicated to delegitimization, the intimidation of students who raise their voices in protest, and the professional incompetence that accompanies BDS campaigns in academic associations.
    The writer is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and president of NGO Monitor.

New Israeli Tissue Sampling Technology May Replace Biopsies (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli researchers have developed a new technology for sampling tissues without the pain and risk of biopsy tests, Tel Aviv University reported Wednesday.
    The innovative method is based on the technique of electroporation, the application of high voltage pulsed electric fields to tissues, to sample intracellular fluids only and not whole tissue.
    The new method does not damage the tissue and can detect the presence of a tumor in an organ even when the exact location of the tumor is unknown.

Revolutionary Israeli Technology Turns Trash into Plastic Treasure - Jim Morrison and Shoshana Kordova (Washington Post)
    UBQ Materials in Israel takes mounds of trash and sorts, grinds, chops, shreds, cleans and heats it into a sort of garbage caramel, then resurrects it as tiny pseudo-plastic pellets that can be made into everyday items like trays and packing crates.
    UBQ says it has succeeded where others have failed, creating a radical technology that transforms garbage into the raw materials for plastics manufacturers and earns them a profit in the end.
    UBQ aims to keep trash from ever going into landfills.

Israeli Radar Sensor Firm Vayyar Imaging Raises $109 Million (Reuters)
    Vayyar Imaging, an Israeli provider of radar imaging sensor technology, said on Wednesday it raised $109 million in a financing round.
    Vayyar provides sensors that can see through walls and objects.

Ribbon Communications to Buy Israel's ECI Telecom for $486 Million - Guy Ben Simon (Globes)
    U.S. software and cloud company Ribbon Communications announced Thursday that it has agreed to merge with Israeli company ECI Telecom.
    ECI, a veteran communications equipment developer founded in 1961, provides end-to-end packet-optical transport for service providers, enterprises, and data center operators.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iran Declares Protests Are Over, But the Evidence Suggests Otherwise - Farnaz Fassihi and Rick Gladstone
    Iranian authorities moved Thursday to project the appearance of normalcy after a week of violent protests over gasoline price increases, partly restoring Internet access. But doctors reported that hospitals were overfilled with people injured in the protests. The Health Ministry ordered all hospitals in Tehran and other cities to cancel elective surgeries because of the influx of emergency cases. President Trump wrote on Twitter, "The regime has shut down their entire Internet System so that the Great Iranian people cannot talk about the tremendous violence taking place within the country."
        Three residents of Tehran reached by phone said that unrest persisted in middle-class and working-class neighborhoods. They said there were swarms of anti-riot police on motorcycles and Special Forces lined up on nearly every major road. Plainclothes Basij militia members were also out on the streets. "We are not leaving the house unless we have to and nearly all official business has come to a halt," said one resident. (New York Times)
  • Iran Protests Suggest U.S. Sanctions Are Inflicting Serious Pain - Keith Johnson
    The Iranian government's response to the latest explosion of popular protest has been much more brutal than in previous outbreaks of protest, such as in 2017-2018, including a near-total shutdown of the Internet and unrestrained use of violence by security forces. The brutal crackdown is evidence of the regime's desperation.
        "They did the [fuel price] reform because they are broke," said Alireza Nader, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "People can't afford a 300 percent increase in gas prices, but the regime didn't have any other choice."
        "This is a full rebellion, not a fuel protest," said Nader. "The regime wants an Internet blackout so they can massacre their way out of this. But there is no way out. Even if this round is crushed, there will be more of this."  (Foreign Policy)
  • UN Nuclear Watchdog: Iran Must Explain Undeclared Site
    Cornel Feruta, acting director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told its board of governors Thursday that Iran has not provided additional details about the discovery of uranium particles of man-made origin at a location that had not been declared, which appeared to confirm allegations made by the U.S. and Israel about a secret nuclear warehouse. "It is essential that Iran works with the agency to resolve this matter promptly," Feruta said. (AP-Washington Post)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Attorney General Indicts Prime Minister Netanyahu
    Israel's Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit on Thursday charged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three cases, the first time in Israel's history a sitting prime minister faces a criminal trial. Case 1000 involved Netanyahu and his family receiving gifts from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman and investor James Packer.
        Case 2000 involved discussions between Netanyahu and Yediot Ahronot and Ynet owner Arnon Mozes, who was also indicted. Case 4000 involved contacts between Netanyahu and Shaul Elovitch, then-majority shareholder of Bezeq Telecom, Israel's leading telecommunications company, who was also indicted, regarding news coverage on the Walla! news site owned by Bezeq. (Ynet News)
        See also Prime Minister Netanyahu Denies All Wrongdoing - Maayan Lubell
    Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has denied all wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a politically orchestrated "witch hunt" by the media and his political foes to oust him from office. Netanyahu has argued that receiving gifts from friends was not against the law. His legal team says criminal probes into the relations between politicians and the news media would be a threat to a free press.
        It could take many months before the cases are brought before the court. According to Israeli law, a prime minister must step down if ultimately convicted, but can stay in office throughout legal proceedings, including appeals. (Reuters)
  • The Unintended Consequences of a Netanyahu Indictment - Alex Traiman
    According to a high-profile international legal team that rushed to Netanyahu's defense during recent pre-indictment hearings, Netanyahu's attempts to influence the media are standard practice for politicians and not criminal in nature.
        Professor Avi Bell, a member of the Faculty of Law at Bar-Ilan University, said that "prosecuting a bribery charge in these cases is a mistake. Pursuing these charges is unprecedented in the democratic world. There is no case we can find anywhere in the democratic world where positive coverage has ever been considered a potential 'bribe.'...Treating bargaining between public officials and media figures over positive coverage as a criminal transaction is a danger to free speech."  (JNS-Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • How Significant Is the U.S. Declaration on Israeli Settlements? - Herb Keinon
    Alan Baker, a former Israeli ambassador to Canada who served for years as the Foreign Ministry's legal adviser, said that ranking the significance of the U.S. declaration on settlements on a scale of one to 10, he would give it a six. "It's not vital, it's a perception of legality of Israel's settlements - it changes the perception that has existed up until now in the U.S. administration, and it goes against the perception held by the EU and the UN, which is a political perception and not really a legal perception."
        Baker, now the director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, said that those claiming the settlements are illegal under international law are not basing this on any clear legal determination or a genuine evaluation of the sources of international law, but rather on UN resolutions that he stressed were nonbinding, political - not legal - decisions.
        Baker acknowledged that the declaration is helpful to Israel because it throws into question "assumptions that are held by the Palestinian leadership, and by the UN and EU, that constitute pressure in any negotiation process. The Palestinians cannot come and say, 'Look, it is widely accepted that Israeli settlements are illegal,' because there is a U.S. opinion that Pompeo said is based on considerable research and evaluation of legal sources, and which says exactly the opposite."  (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israeli Settlements Were Never Illegal - Dr. Richard L. Cravatts
    According to Eugene V. Rostow, a legal scholar and one of the authors of UN Security Council Resolution 242 written after the 1967 war to outline peace negotiations, "the Jewish right of settlement in the West Bank is conferred by the same provisions of the [British] Mandate under which Jews settled in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem before the State of Israel was created," and "the Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the existing Palestinian population to live there."
        According to Professor Emeritus Jerold Auerbach of Wellesley College, "Israeli settlement throughout the West Bank is explicitly protected by international agreements dating from the World War I era, subsequently reaffirmed after World War II, and never revoked since....The [Mandate for Palestine] recognized 'the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine' and 'the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.'...This was not framed as a gift to the Jewish people; rather, based on recognition of historical rights reaching back into antiquity, it was their entitlement."  The writer is immediate past-president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME). (Times of Israel)
  • Asking the Wrong Question about the Occupation - Daniel Gordis
    "When will Israel end the occupation," or more commonly among many American Jewish progressives, "What can we do to pressure Israel to end the occupation?" are the wrong questions. The right question lies emblazoned on the other side of that same coin: "When will the Palestinians declare an end to their desire to destroy Israel?"
        As long as the Palestinians insist that they are committed to destroying Israel, why would any sane Israeli depart the West Bank without guarantees that Hamas will not take over that territory, too, turning it into another Gaza? Our conversation about making the situation better would be infinitely more useful if we spoke about the Palestinians and their role in this mess at least as much as we speak about the Israelis. Those who know anything about Israel know that there are very, very few Israelis who proclaim "end the occupation now."
        The writer is Senior Vice President at Shalem College in Jerusalem. His most recent book is, We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel. (Times of Israel)
  • The Iranian Regime Is Cracking from Within - Ray Takeyh
    The Iranian government might gain control of the streets once again, as has happened in the past. But the latest demonstrations reveal an uncomfortable truth: the Islamic Republic is increasingly a government without supporters. This current revolt represents a significant uprising by Iran's working class, which had long been viewed as supportive of the ruling regime. The government in Iran has forfeited much of its legitimacy, which suggests the U.S. should keep up the sanctions pressure to further weaken the regime's standing. The Iranian-born writer is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Politico)
        See also Iran Protests Reflect Effectiveness of U.S. Maximum Pressure Campaign - Saeed Ghasseminejad
    Tehran's decision to risk public backlash by sharply raising the price of gasoline indicates that Washington's economic pressure is forcing the regime to risk its political stability in order to prevent a financial collapse. Ignited by gasoline prices, the protests quickly turned to demands for an end to dictatorship, religious rule, and the bankrolling of Hizbullah, Hamas, and Bashar al-Assad. The protests are a testament to the effectiveness of Washington's maximum pressure campaign. Accordingly, the U.S. should double down on its pressure, especially with tougher enforcement of sanctions already on the books. The writer is a senior Iran and financial economics advisor at FDD. (Foundation for Defense of Democracies)
  • Hizbullah's Campaign Against UNIFIL - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Assaf Orion
    Southern Lebanon is Hizbullah's main area of military deployment against Israel. Its current arsenal is estimated to include 130,000 rockets, attack drones, coast-to-sea missiles, and surface-to-air missiles. This firepower, exceeding that of most states, is augmented by offensive infantry units.
        The UNIFIL mandate is to help the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) become the only military force south of the Litani River. Yet UN reports describe numerous incidents in which UNIFIL suffered restrictions of its movement or violence against its troops.
        In November 2018, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres reported that on August 4, "20 individuals in civilian clothes stopped a four-vehicle UNIFIL patrol in the village of Majdal Zun, allegedly because the peacekeepers were taking photographs. During the course of the incident, several individuals broke windows of the patrol vehicles with hammers, shot at two of the vehicles as they sought to disengage and poured gasoline on a vehicle, setting it ablaze."
        "Some individuals assaulted the peacekeepers, punching and beating the patrol commander with sticks as he attempted to mediate the situation and kicking and dragging another peacekeeper while he was on the ground. Individuals also pointed weapons at the UNIFIL personnel, including at close range, snatching their weapons or demanding that they be handed over."
        The writer served as head of the Strategic Division in the Planning Directorate of the IDF General Staff (2010-2015). He is currently a fellow at the Washington Institute and at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
  • The Failure of the International Criminal Court (ICC) - Amb. Alan Baker
    There is a growing concern that the International Criminal Court (ICC), established in 1998, is irreparably and institutionally flawed and politicized. Regrettably, and despite the best intentions of its founders, the independence and impartiality of the Court was flawed from the outset by constitutionally linking the Court with the United Nations.
        Placing part of the ICC's financing at the political mercy of the UN General Assembly undermines and prejudices any pretension of independence of the Court. In a similar manner, the establishment of an "Assembly of States Parties" as the Court's management, oversight, and legislative body, composed of representatives of the states that have ratified the Rome Statute, places the judicial independence of the Court at the whim of a political majority.
        The acceptance of a non-existent "Palestinian state" as a full-fledged member state by the Court is an example of how the ICC is dependent upon political determinations of the UN General Assembly. The Palestinians have adopted the ICC as their own "back-yard tribunal" for baiting Israel.
        The writer, 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. (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    Weekend Features

  • How a German Lawyer in Holland Saved Thousands of Jews - Emily Burack
    Hans Calmeyer was a German lawyer who, starting in March 1941, was assigned to adjudicate cases in which a person's Jewish status was in doubt. He oversaw 5,600 such petitions and is credited for saving thousands of Jewish lives. Calmeyer made it easier for petitioners to claim that they were not Jewish. "In two-thirds of the cases, he decided in favor of the petitioner, knowing that he was being cheated," said Laureen Nussbaum, 92, author of Shedding Our Stars: A Story of Hans Calmeyer and How He Saved Thousands of Families Like Mine.
        Calmeyer declared Nussbaum's mother "not Jewish" and the family was allowed to remove the yellow stars on their clothing. "It wasn't true, my mother was half-Jewish," Nussbaum said. Calmeyer engaged in a kind of low-key sabotage to thwart the Nazi agenda, working within the existing power structure to save as many Jews as possible. Yad Vashem declared Calmeyer a Righteous Among the Nations in 1992. (JTA)
  • Holocaust Survivor Reunited with Baby He Saved during WW2
    A new documentary, "Cheating Hitler," tells the story of three Canadian Holocaust survivors - Maxwell Smart, Rose Lipsyzc, and Helen Yermus - who were children during the war. The Germans occupied Smart's part of Poland in 1941 when he was 11 and his father was killed within three months. In 1943, he, along with his mother and sister, were being loaded onto trucks when his mother urged him to flee. He never saw them again. At age 13, he was living alone in the woods, hiding from groups of Ukrainians and Nazis searching for Jews.
        After months alone, he came across another boy hiding in the woods - Janek Arenbrg - and they became companions in survival. One day, the two children heard gunshots. They discovered the bodies of seven Jews, then spotted something moving on the other side of a nearby river. They crossed the freezing water to find another body - a woman. But in her arms was a living, breathing baby girl. They brought the child back to their shelter and in the woods found a Jewish woman who recognized the baby as her niece and took her into her care.
        In 1944, Smart connected with some Soviet soldiers. In 1948 he came to Canada through the War Orphans Project of the Canadian Jewish Congress. He settled in Montreal and became an artist. Smart is one of just 100 Jews that survived from his home town, Buczacz, from a previous Jewish population of 8,000. In his later years he began to speak and write about his wartime experience.
        The makers of the documentary did not know if they would find out what happened to the baby. With the documentary crew he traveled to Israel, where researcher Natasza Niedzielska documented the girl's fate. Her name is Tova Barkai. She survived the war and, now elderly, lives in Haifa, where she and Smart were reunited. (BBC News)
  • German Archive Uploads Details of Millions of Nazi Victims
    Germany's International Center on Nazi Persecution has uploaded 850,000 documents with information on ten million people collected after the end of World War II. (AP-New York Times)

  • When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there are a number of outmoded beliefs: That the conflict can be solved by returning to the status quo ante 1967. That peace between Israel and the Arab states hinges on delivering a Palestinian state. And that settlement construction is the principal obstacle to peace. This is all nonsense.
  • The pan-Arab campaign to "liberate" Palestine began two decades before Israel controlled an inch of Gaza or the West Bank. Relations with much of the Arab world have flourished in recent years, not on account of any progress on the Palestinian front, but because Arab states see Israel as a capable ally against an imperialist Iran.
  • As for settlements, Israel withdrew all of its settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005. The result was more war, not less. It would be worse than useless to demand that Israelis repeat the experiment on a much larger scale.
  • As a matter of survival, Israel requires that a Palestinian state have neither the ambition nor the means to devote itself to Israel's destruction. The core problem with the past half-century of failed peacemaking efforts has been the facile assumption that meeting the need for two states would ultimately fulfill Israel's requirement for security. The lesson of experience has been the opposite.
  • The administration's ruling on settlements cleans out some of the cobwebs under which thinking about the conflict has moldered. Peace, if it comes, will not be the result of a legal argument over the Geneva Convention. It will happen when a new generation of Palestinian leaders dedicate themselves to building up the institutions of a decent state rather than attacking those of their neighbor.
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