November 29, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Russia's Broken Promises on Israel's Syrian Front - Amos Harel (Ha'aretz)
    In the summer of 2018, the regime of Bashar Assad completed the recapture of southern Syria. In return for not intervening in events in the Syrian Golan, Israel was promised that the front would remain quiet.
    A Russian-American-Jordanian agreement, and verbal assurances as well from Moscow, stipulated that Iran and its satellites would not be allowed to draw closer than 70 or 80 km. (43-49 miles) from Israel's border.
    None of the Russians' promises were kept: Iran and its proxies are present on almost every square meter of ground between Damascus and the Israeli border.
    Deployed all along the Golan Heights front are observation posts, Syrian units with Iranian advisers, weapons experts from Hizbullah, and local terrorist networks that Hizbullah is setting up.
    Since February 2018 there have been six incidents in which rockets and UAVs have been launched at Israel by the Iranians or by militias operating at their directive.

Israeli Airstrikes Have Not Stopped Iranian Ambitions in Syria - Bassel Oudat (Al Ahram-Egypt)
    Israel bombed 20 targets around Damascus it said were used by Syrian and Iranian forces in Syria on Nov. 20, in response to rocket attacks from Syria on Israel the previous day.
    Western military reports said that during the air strikes, Israel jammed signals over Damascus. Although Syria had launched four defensive missiles, these had been blinded and had dropped on homes and killed civilians.
    Recurring Israeli air strikes have forced Gen. Suleimani to change the deployment of Iranian forces in Syria. However, they have not stopped Iran from pursuing its ambitions to control Syrian territory, especially along the border with Israel.

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Guardian Revives Lie that Israel Holds Palestinian "Political Prisoners" - Adam Levick (UK Media Watch-CAMERA)
    A Guardian article on Nov. 28 claimed that "more than 4,700 Palestinian security detainees and political prisoners are held by Israel."
    However, there are no Palestinian "political prisoners" in Israeli prisons.
    Its use of the term "political prisoners" represents another example of the Guardian blindly accepting Palestinian propaganda as fact.

Instinct Beats Technology in Airport Security - Simon Calder (Independent-UK)
    Israel takes airport security extremely seriously, as I discovered when passing through the new Ramon airport.
    A mandatory pre-flight interview takes place before check-in. Questions range from the highly specific ("When did you book your flight?") to the humdrum, such as your daily routine at work or favorite football team.
    "The way a passenger answers is more important than what the answer is," says Philip Baum, visiting professor of aviation security at Coventry University.
    "There is a profiler at every entrance to the airport building. They will stop people who do not meet baseline expectations."
    In Britain you have to prove you are not carrying liquids in containers over 100 ml., and take off your shoes. But Israel does not fret about liquids, nor electronics in your cabin baggage.
    "The system is based on a common-sense approach of identifying negative intent rather than the carriage of prohibited articles," says Baum. Instinct can be smarter than technology.

Israeli Defense Firm Develops Cyber Defenses to Protect Critical Infrastructure - Yaakov Lappin (JNS)
    Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has won major cyber-defense contracts to protect critical infrastructure in Israel and abroad.
    Rafael has constructed a Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOS) for Israel Railways to help deal with more than 10 million monthly cyber-attack attempts.
    Rafael also built defenses for Argentina's Defense Ministry and military ahead of the G20 summit held there last year.

NYC Emergency Services Use Israeli Tech to Protect Computer Systems - Eytan Halon (Jerusalem Post)
    Israeli security software firm Indeni has partnered with the New York City Police and Fire Departments to protect their critical computer networks.
    Indeni has developed a security infrastructure automation platform enabling organizations to proactively detect and prevent computer system malfunctions before they affect vital operations.
    The company currently names Mastercard, Bloomberg and Boston Scientific among its customers. Its platform will also be used by the U.S. space agency NASA to identify and fix computer malfunctions.
    "Today, emergency calls to the police, important government services, and water and electricity suppliers are all dependent on advanced computer systems," said Indeni CEO Yoni Leitersdorf. "These systems must be immune to hacking and available 100% of the time."

Argentine Football Team to Use Israeli Tech in Training for 2020 Olympics (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli sports technology firm PlayerMaker announced Wednesday that Argentina's Olympic football team will be using its technology to help prepare for the Tokyo 2020 games.
    The Israeli system collects data through a hidden boot-mounted sensor, giving coaches an important tool to analyze player performance.

Israeli Students Develop Aircraft Safe Landing System after Engine Shutdown (Xinhua-China)
    Israeli students developed a safe landing guidance system for aircraft whose engines have been disabled during flight, Israel's Technion reported Wednesday.
    The system outlines the optimal flight path in real time after evaluating the direction and intensity of the wind.
    In an actual flight test, the system detected two possible landing strips, calculated the route to the preferred destination, and guided the pilot to the preferred landing spot.

Moody's Affirms Israel's Credit Rating in Upbeat Economic Assessment (Globes)
    International credit rating agency Moody's has reaffirmed Israel's A1 sovereign debt rating.
    Moody's Vice President Evan Wohlmann said Israel "is one of only a handful of advanced countries that has a lower debt-to-GDP ratio now than before the global financial crisis."
    "Israel's economic growth has outpaced most other advanced industrial countries over the past decade, driven by a strongly competitive high-tech export sector and a diversified economic base that now includes energy exports."

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Iraqi Forces Kill 35 Protesters Thursday - Alissa J. Rubin
    Iraqi security officers opened fire on protesters in southern Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 35. In Nasiriya, the Interior Ministry's Quick Reaction Forces opened fire on mostly unarmed protesters at a sit-in, killing at least 25 and wounding 160. 10 more deaths were reported in Najaf and Karbala. (New York Times)
        See also Why Are Iraqi Protesters Targeting Iranian Buildings? - Arwa Ibrahim
    As anti-government protests continue from Baghdad to the mainly Shia south, some Iraqi protesters have focused their anger on official Iranian facilities. Renad Mansour, director of the Iraq Initiative at Chatham House, said the attack on the Iranian consulate in the Shia holy city of Najaf on Wednesday had been building since the Iranian consulate was attacked in Basra in 2018. Protesters also scaled the concrete barriers of the Iranian consulate in Iraq's Shia holy city of Karbala on Nov. 4.
        Ihsan al-Shimmary, a political science professor at the University of Baghdad, said, "What happened in Najaf reflects the growing condemnation among protesters and the wider population towards what they regard as Iranian intervention in the country's internal affairs. With the incidents taking place in two Shia holy cities, they reflect a change among Iraq's Shia population towards Iran and its plummeting popularity."  (Al Jazeera)
  • After Wave of Protests, Iran Speaks of Public Hangings, Threatens West - Amir Taheri
    Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei says the uprising in Iran was the result of "a deep, broad and very dangerous foreign conspiracy." The daily Kayhan, believed to reflect Khamenei's views, is calling for gallows to be erected to hang "evil-doers" in public, regardless of the numbers involved.
        The Islamic Revolutionary Guards' news site Fars said: "Our enemies live in glass houses and their most sensitive and strategic economic and military assets are within our range. By inflicting heavy financial and military damage on the enemy we can push him into desperation and force him to kneel in front of us." President Hassan Rouhani threatens "foreign enemies, saying, "If we have no security, no one shall have security." The writer was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
        See also Iranian Regime Fights Back Against Protesters - Iran Desk
    After killing protesters, the Iranian regime has been demanding huge sums from families to recover their bodies. According to testimonies from expatriate journalists, intelligence agencies inside Iran have tortured their parents, urging them to call their children abroad and demand that they terminate their reporting immediately. Iran demonstrated an extraordinary ability to disconnect the country from the Internet, an option that appeared to have been prepared in advance of the latest wave of protests. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Eyewitnesses on the Unrest in Iran - Susanne Koelbl
    Thousands of Iranians have been protesting against the government in dozens of cities for more than a week now. Der Spiegel spoke with Iranians who have witnessed the protests. (Der Spiegel-Germany)
  • Hizbullah Has Trapped Itself in Lebanon - Michael Young
    Since the start of the Lebanese uprising on Oct. 17, Hizbullah has maneuvered itself into a terrible dilemma, one with potentially existential implications for the party. Hizbullah is now seen as the main defender of a thoroughly discredited political order. Moreover, Lebanon is facing a looming economic collapse. If the system crumbles at a moment when Hizbullah is perceived as the strongest defender of the political class that brought about this calamity, the consequences could be far-reaching for the party.
        The Shi'a did not support Hizbullah to spend years in poverty. They always considered Hizbullah as a ticket to social promotion in the Lebanese state and a way out of their past impoverishment. Asking them to grit their teeth and bear it is hardly a good plan. Once the system folds, Nasrallah will have hundreds of thousands of coreligionists to feed, and a majority may soon blame Hizbullah for their predicament. What will Hizbullah be able to offer? Weapons? Resistance? Slogans? The writer, a former columnist for the Beirut Daily Star, is a senior editor at the Carnegie Center. (Carnegie Middle East Center-Lebanon)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Report: Israel, Hamas Renew Ceasefire Talks
    Israel and Hamas have restarted talks in recent days on a deal for a long-term ceasefire which would include the issue of Israelis held in Gaza, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Friday. Hamas representatives are holding discussions with middlemen representing Israel on a long-term calming of tensions in exchange for benefits including a new Turkish-funded water desalination facility and a hospital funded by the U.S. (Times of Israel)
  • Bolivia Renews Ties with Israel - Herb Keinon
    After a break of more than a decade, Bolivia will renew ties with Israel, Karen Longaric, the foreign minister of the country's transitional government, announced on Thursday. Former leftist Bolivian President Evo Morales, who stepped down earlier this month, broke off ties with Israel in 2009. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Saudi Reporter Secretly Visits Israel, Says "Loves Jewish People"
    A Saudi reporter who made a secret trip to Israel this week told Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday, "There is no escape from establishing normal relations with Israel." "When people heard I am from Saudi Arabia, they were amazed. Not in a hostile manner but by accepting who I was. I love the Jewish people and all the citizens of Israel," he said.
        On the Palestinian conflict, he said, "Why should the Arab world ignite problems with Israel and the superpowers because of a small minority? This minority had a chance to form a state in '47 but refused because it only dealt with the question, 'why do the Jews have an independent country?'"  (i24News)
  • IDF's Targeted Warning System Reduced Sirens by 50 Percent - Anna Ahronheim
    The IDF's new precise warning system cut down the number of incoming rocket sirens by 50% across the country during the last 50-hour round of rocket fire by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The new system implemented by the Home Front Command in June allowed 500,000 Israeli civilians who would have heard sirens under the old system, but were not directly in harm's way, to continue to go about their daily lives. "There are some communities that didn't hear even one siren during the last round, whereas with the old system they would have heard 10," said Maj. Tohar Nitzan, Head of the Home Front Command's Warning Department. (Jerusalem Post)
  • IDF Foils Mass Smuggling of Military Equipment to Gaza
    Israeli security forces on Wednesday seized 325 packages of military equipment ordered online from AliExpress and Amazon and destined for terrorist groups in Gaza. The goods included military and electronic equipment such as knives, scuba gear, drones, satellite communications equipment, and binoculars. (Israel Hayom)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • The Bahrain Economic Workshop Highlighted the Disparity between the Palestinians' Claims to Moral Superiority and Their Real Goals - Dr. Joel Fishman and Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yosef Kuperwasser
    The Peace to Prosperity Workshop on June 25-26, 2019, in Manama, Bahrain, was an event of major significance. The American representative, Jared Kushner, implicitly publicly questioned the legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority and called for regime change, expressing the view that the PA was not serving its public.
        From the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964, the Palestinian national movement has firmly rejected the possibility of a compromise that would result in a peaceful settlement with Israel. It has steadfastly rejected the principle of Jewish nationhood and sovereignty and practices incitement to hatred and violence. It has also designated the United States as an enemy.
        The Bahrain Workshop brought into full view the disparity between the Palestinians' real goals and their claims to moral superiority. The ideas which Jared Kushner articulated in the workshop and those of the Palestine Authority, which fixate on the politicide of Israel, remain in direct opposition.
        Dr. Joel Fishman is a historian and former editor of the Jewish Political Studies Review. Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yosef Kuperwasser served as Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research Division of IDF Military Intelligence. Both are fellows of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (National Resilience, Politics and Society-Ariel University)
  • No, Israel Does Not Target Palestinian Children - Ido Levy
    U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) grabbed headlines in May when she tweeted that Israeli forces "unjustly oppress & target Palestinian children and families." Stating or implying that Israelis intentionally target Palestinian children goes well beyond a display of genuine care for children and crosses a clear line into anti-Semitism.
        First, blaming incidents of child casualties exclusively on Israel requires a willful blindness to culpability on the Palestinian side. In Gaza, Hamas indoctrinates, arms and orders adolescents to conduct terrorist operations. The Palestinian Authority encourages children to become "martyrs."
        In reality, Israel's military goes to unprecedented levels to reduce casualties. Former U.S. chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has praised Israel's measures to reduce civilian casualties. To suggest that Israel purposefully and maliciously targets innocent children is plainly anti-Semitic. (Detroit News)
  • How to Survive in the Middle East - Nave Dromi
    Almost a million Jews had lived in the Middle East and North Africa before being expelled by Arab leaders and forced to flee around the middle of the 20th century. On Nov. 30, we will remember their ethnic cleansing on the Day of Commemoration for the Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries and Iran.
        According to numerous surveys, Jews whose origins are in the Middle East and North Africa understand better than others that in this region there are only two types of people: the conquerors and the conquered.
        We have seen in recent years how the stateless are treated, whether it is the Kurds in Turkey, Syria or Iraq; the Coptic Christians in Egypt; or the Yazidis in Iraq. And this used to be the lot of the Jews in the region. When Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizbullah and Iran talk about destroying Israel, their goal is to undo what they see as the unnatural emergence of Jewish sovereignty on territory previously conquered by Islam - which must be reclaimed in battle. For them, this is a very real religious obligation.
        For Israel to survive in such a region, it must prove itself. Israel's enemies believe it can and will be defeated. Peace will only come when it is clearly understood that Israel will not be defeated and will not vanish. When Israel's enemies grasp this and are ready for peace, then negotiations can begin in earnest. The writer is director of the Middle East Forum in Israel. (JNS)
  • Mizrahi Jews View the Palestinian Front - Daniel Gordis
    On the Palestinian front, what Mizrahi Jews in Israel (descendants of Jews from Middle Eastern and North African communities) essentially have to say is: "We are actually the children and grandchildren of Jews who were forced out of their countries by that culture. Forgive us if we don't share your instinctive benevolence, but we are the ones who actually know that culture, and we believe that their hatred for us is far more powerful than any instinct for peace might be."
        We have to acknowledge that we cannot both insist that Israel make concessions for peace now and respect the intellectual independence of Mizrahi Jews. The writer is senior vice president at Shalem College in Jerusalem. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • Labour's Anti-Semitism Cannot Be Disregarded - Anthony Julius
    Anti-Semitism makes people stupid. If you live in a world of conspiracies, if you think the world is divided into the blamelessly good, the victims, and the unqualifiedly evil, the oppressors, then anti-Semitism is for you.
        In today's Labour Party, compelling evidence exists of extensive spoken and online abuse of Jewish party members; exclusion of Jewish members from participating in party activity; signaling by the party leader that anti-Semitic views are acceptable; the failure to implement processes to protect Jewish members from anti-Semitism; hostile responses to those calling out anti-Semitism; and appointment of anti-Semites to positions of power.
        There is an implication that it is a little parochial of Jews to insist on their own local fears in these times of national crisis. So what if the party is contaminated by Jew-hatred if it is also the party that will save the country?
        But anti-Semites cannot be social reformers. Their anti-Semitism incapacitates them. It encourages misconceptions about the causes of social conflicts - of human suffering and social deprivation - and therefore prolongs their existence, to everyone's loss. Anti-Semitism corrupts political discourse; it taints political life; its injustices towards Jews are precedent-establishing - people who start with the Jews do not end with the Jews.
        The writer, chair in law and the arts at University College London, helped defend author Deborah Lipstadt against libel accusations by Holocaust denier David Irving. (New Statesman-UK)
        See also Jeremy Corbyn Reminds Us Why Israel Exists - David Harsanyi (National Review)
  • How Anti-Semitism Brought Down Ireland's Jewish Former Minister of Justice - Yanky Fachler
    In Frenzy and Betrayal: The Anatomy of a Political Assassination, Alan Shatter, Ireland's Jewish former minister for justice, equality and defense, explores how and why he was treated so maliciously by the Irish establishment before and after he resigned in May 2014 in the wake of two reports that wrongly condemned his conduct. While the courts declared that the grounds for Shatter's resignation had been false, official Ireland has yet to acknowledge that the frenzied onslaught that destroyed his reputation was based on falsehoods.
        While it would be a stretch to accuse everyone who participated in the vendetta against Shatter of anti-Semitism, it would be foolish to deny there was a whiff of it in the mix. Shatter has written an important book that is destined to be studiously ignored by the very people who claim to be the guardians of Ireland's moral compass. The writer is chair of the Jewish Historical Society of Ireland. (Jerusalem Post)
  • French Jews Are Fleeing Their Country - Yardena Schwartz
    Facing record levels of anti-Semitism, many French Jews are joining an exodus to Israel. In 2015 alone, nearly 8,000 French Jews made what is known as Aliyah - ascent to the Holy Land. France is home to Europe's largest Jewish population, the third largest after Israel and the U.S. President Emmanuel Macron declared that anti-Semitism was at its highest levels since World War II. 89% of Jewish students in France report experiencing anti-Semitic abuse, according to a poll published in March.
        Robert Ejnes, executive director of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), said that since 2003, "12 people have been murdered for the sole reason that they were Jewish - all of them by radical Islamists."  (National Geographic)

  • Weekend Features

  • 9 Israeli Innovations Feature on TIME Magazine's 100 Best Inventions of 2019
    Nine Israeli innovations appear in TIME magazine's list of the "100 Best Inventions" of 2019. Among them are MyEye 2.0 from OrCam, a portable, finger-sized device that can be clipped to eyeglasses to read out texts from books, newspapers, product labels, and restaurant menus, identify faces and currency, and tell time for people who are blind, partially sighted, or have reading difficulties.
        TytoHome by Tyto Care is a handheld examination device that comes with attachments to examine the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat and abdomen, as well as measure body temperature, to enable remote diagnosis of acute care situations like ear infections, sore throats, fever, cold and flu, and allergies.
        Temi by Robotemi is a 3-foot-tall personal robot with a 10-inch touchscreen for a head that can answer questions, order groceries, play music and videos, make calls, follow you around your house, and call for medical assistance. (NoCamels)
  • Israel Wants to Help India in Its Quest for Water - Ron Malka
    Israel had to develop techniques to increase water sources as well as practices to efficiently manage and control water usage. A country with over 60% desert and less than 20% naturally arable landmass, Israel has become a world leader in water management and water recycling. Over 90% of Israel's water is recycled, and nearly 80% of drinking water consumed is desalinated or recycled. Israel has reduced the amount of water needed for irrigation by more than 30%.
        Israeli drip irrigation systems have been used by Indian farmers since 1993. 32 Israeli-led water projects in 13 states provide technology know-how in drip irrigation, water treatment and water planning infrastructures. Israel is also providing guidance and training in water management practices in 28 Centers of Excellence in India. 7 desalination plants on the coast of India are already using Israeli desalination technology. Israel is keen to help the government realize its vision of a water-abundant India. The writer is Israel's ambassador to India and Sri Lanka. (Hindustan Times-India)
  • The Jewish Vigilantes Who Fought Fascism in Postwar Britain - Adrian Hennigan
    Tommy Gould and Gerry Flamberg were war heroes. Gould helped remove an enemy bomb from his torpedoed submarine, later receiving the Victoria Cross. Flamberg parachuted into Arnhem, took a bullet to the shoulder, and single-handedly took out a German tank with a strategically aimed grenade. The two were founding members of a predominantly Jewish group of vigilantes (men and women) whose remarkable story is recounted in a new book, We Fight Fascists: The 43 Group and Their Forgotten Battle for Post-War Britain, by Daniel Sonabend.
        From 1946 to 1950, what began as a handful of Jewish ex-servicemen confronting fascists in London's East End became 2,000 members with intelligence and surveillance branches. In the 1930s, Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists managed to attract thousands of supporters, but Mosley had been interned during World War II and released at the war's end. It wasn't long before he and his movement were back on the streets of London.
        But in the shadow of the Holocaust, a large number of young Jews were mad as hell and not going to take this anymore. Sonabend concludes: "The 43 Group realized that to defeat the fascists you had to beat them at their own game and hit them twice as hard as they hit you, and doing so was a moral imperative."  (Ha'aretz)

Yes, Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism - Bret Stephens (National Post-Canada)
  • Anti-Zionism is unique because its view is that the Zionist enterprise, that is to say, the State of Israel, is misconceived, it's wrong, and at the end of the day, it isn't simply Israeli policy that has to change, but it is Israel itself that has to go.
  • This is unique when you think about other countries around the world. Many of us are critics of China's occupation of Tibet, or Russia's occupation of parts of Ukraine. Some people are aware that Turkey is occupying northern Cyprus, in violation of international law, and putting down settlements there too.
  • But none of those critiques extend to calls for Russia, China, or Turkey to disappear, to be eliminated.
  • Anti-Zionism tends, very frequently, to traffic in images, tropes and libels that have a long history in an anti-Semitic tradition stretching back for thousands of years. For example, when you hear that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, which it of course manifestly is not, you are trafficking in a classic anti-Semitic trope, suggesting that the Jewish people have a particular kind of bloodlust.
  • It has become fashionable to hate Jews using the excuse of their statehood, of their nationality, and of their willingness to defend their borders, as the latest pretext to single out Jewish people for opprobrium and for hatred that is applied to no other people in the world.
  • That is why anti-Zionism is indistinguishable from anti-Semitism, and it is the anti-Semitism of our day.

    The writer is a New York Times columnist. This is from a recent Munk Debate podcast.
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