January 3, 2020

In-Depth Issues:

Jewish Groups to Hold Solidarity March in New York City on Sunday - Marcy Oster (JTA)
    Jewish groups will hold a solidarity march in New York City under the banner "No Hate. No Fear." The Jan. 5 event comes in the wake of attacks on Jews in Monsey, Jersey City and Brooklyn.
    See also New York Needs to Show Up Against Anti-Semitism - Editorial (New York Times)
    New York is home to the first Jewish congregation in the U.S., Shearith Israel, founded in 1654.
    Of 421 hate crimes reported in New York City in 2019, more than half were directed at Jews.
    Jews are being attacked on the streets of New York. New Yorkers can't stand for that. What is called for now is a mass show of solidarity and rejection of anti-Semitism.
    Such an effort is planned for Sunday. Marchers will gather at 11 a.m. at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan, then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
    In New York, a city of immigrants and refugees, anti-Semitism is a threat to everyone. To protect all of us, New York needs to show up against anti-Semitism.
    See also New York Solidarity March Details (UJA Federation of New York)

Soleimani, a General Who Became Iran Icon by Targeting U.S. - Nasser Karimi and Jon Gambrell (AP)
    Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, 62, who oversaw the Revolutionary Guard's foreign operations, was Iran's most recognizable battlefield commander.
    In a 2010 speech, U.S. Gen. David Petreaus recounted a message from Soleimani: "He said, 'Gen. Petreaus, you should know that I, Qasem Soleimani, control the policy for Iran with respect to Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Afghanistan.'"

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, Head of Pro-Iranian Kataib Hezbollah, Targeted by U.S. - Yossi Melman (Ha'aretz)
    Kataib Hezbollah is one of the most important pro-Iranian Shi'ite militias operating in Iraq.
    The Iranian Revolutionary Guards' al-Quds Force arms, trains, and directs the militia's soldiers, whose strength has grown to 25,000 in recent years.
    The Iraqi militia was led by Jamal Jaafar Ibrahimi, 65, also known as Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
    Western intelligence attributes to him direct involvement in the terror attacks against the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait in 1983, two months after the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings that killed 241 U.S. and 58 French soldiers.
    On Tuesday, al-Muhandis' militia led the storming of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Iraq Anti-Government Protesters Sing, Dance after Soleimani Death (AFP-Times of Israel)
    Iraqis who have demonstrated for months against a government they see as beholden to Iran broke into song and dance Friday after a U.S. strike killed top Iranian commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani, an AFP photographer said.
    "This is God's revenge for the blood of those killed," said a demonstrator in Baghdad's Tahrir Square, after 460 people were killed by Iran-backed security forces.
    U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted a video on Twitter Thursday night of "Iraqis dancing in the street for freedom; thankful that General Soleimani is no more."

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Palestinian Boys Are Raised to Be "Martyrs" - Itamar Marcus (Jerusalem Post)
    In a video that Fatah posted on its official Facebook page, a young Palestinian girl describes how a little boy excitedly awaited a gift that his mother promised him.
    But instead of handing him a toy, his mother hands him a rifle and says:
    "My son, we were not created for happiness.... Jerusalem is ours, our weapon is our Islam, and our ammunition is our children. And you, O my son, are meant for martyrdom."
    Is this anything but child abuse? The PA has been brainwashing Palestinian children to aspire to martyrdom for more than 20 years.
    The ICC recently announced that it is considering investigating Israel for "war crimes," while the real criminals - the Palestinian Authority leaders - are abusing children, raising them to kill and be killed, right in front of the many international organizations that claim they are concerned about the well-being of Palestinian children.
    The writer is director of Palestinian Media Watch.

Video: Tony Blair Calls for Integration of Israel and the Arab World (Tony Blair Institute for Global Change)
    Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed the inaugural gathering of the Arab Council for Regional Integration on Nov. 20.
    Blair called for a new vision of integration and improved relations between Israel and the Arab world.
    See also Arab Thinkers Call to Abandon Boycotts and Engage with Israel - David M. Halbfinger (New York Times)

Gaza Nurses Train in Israel - Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman (Jerusalem Post)
    Five nurses from Gaza and 11 from the West Bank were in Israel this week for four days of medical training conducted by Israeli physicians at Sheba Medical Center.
    Akram Abu Salah, a nurse from Gaza, told the Jerusalem Post: "It's different than I thought. The people are very nice. You have Jews and Palestinians working together. It minimizes the gaps between us."
    Participants learned new practices with a focus on the skills needed in emergency situations.

Israeli Startups Raised Record $8.19 Billion in 2019 (Globes)
    Israeli tech companies raised a record $8.19 billion in 2019, easily surpassing the previous record of $6.4 billion raised in 2018.
    Website navigation tool WalkMe led the way in December with a $90 million financing round and revenue intelligence company Gong.io raised $65 million.
    4D imaging radar developer Arbe Robotics raised $32 million, human resources startup Gloat raised $25 million, and fat disorders drug developer Raziel Therapeutics raised $22 million.

362 Multinationals Scout for Tech in Israel - Shoshanna Solomon (Times of Israel)
    At the end of 2019 there were 362 multinational corporations active in Israel, according to a new report by IVC Research Center.
    63% are U.S.-based corporations, followed by German, UK, and Chinese firms.
    Intel acquired five companies in 2014-2019, including Mobileye. Google bought 10 firms, and Microsoft acquired 8.

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News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Top Iranian Commander Gen. Qasem Soleimani Killed in U.S. Airstrike at Baghdad Airport
    At the direction of the President, the U.S. military has taken decisive defensive action to protect U.S. personnel abroad by killing Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force, a U.S.-designated Foreign Terrorist Organization. Gen. Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.
        Gen. Soleimani and his Quds Force were responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more. He had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months and approved the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place this week. This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans. (U.S. Defense Department)
        See also Soleimani Responsible for 608 American Deaths in Iraq - Frank Miles
    According to the State Department, 17% of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 - 608 American troops - were orchestrated by Gen. Soleimani. Friday's Baghdad strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces militias. (Fox News)
        See also Iran Names Deputy Quds Force Commander to Replace Soleimani
    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei appointed the deputy commander of the Quds Force, Brig.-Gen. Esmail Ghaani, to replace Qasem Soleimani. (Reuters-New York Times)
        See also U.S. Embassy Urges Citizens to Depart Iraq Immediately (Reuters)
  • Israel Braces for Iranian Retaliation after U.S. Kills Soleimani - Stephen Farrell
    In the wake of the U.S. air strike that killed senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani on Friday, Israel Army Radio said the military had gone on heightened alert, amid fears that Iran could strike through its regional allies - Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. "They will wait for the right moment to exact revenge, perhaps by firing into Israeli territory through Shiite militias in Syria and perhaps even from Gaza," said Ron Ben-Yishai, an Israeli commentator for Ynet. In Gaza, Hamas condemned Soleimani's killing and sent its "dearest condolences" to Iran.
        Israel has long regarded Soleimani as a major threat. In August the IDF foiled a Quds Force attack, administered by Soleimani, involving multiple drones from Syria. Israel has also accused him of leading efforts to establish a precision-guided missiles program for Hizbullah. Israeli opposition lawmaker Yair Lapid congratulated U.S. President Trump on Twitter for killing those responsible for "murderous terrorist acts from Damascus to Buenos Aires."  (Reuters)
        See also Israel Places Embassies around the World on High Alert (Jerusalem Post)
  • Greece, Israel, Cyprus Sign EastMed Gas Pipeline Deal - Angeliki Koutantou
    The energy ministers of Greece, Cyprus and Israel on Thursday signed a deal in Athens to build a 1,900 km. (1,180 mile) subsea pipeline to carry natural gas from the eastern Mediterranean's rapidly developing gas fields to Europe. Although Turkey opposes the project, the countries aim to reach a final investment decision by 2022 and have the $6-7 billion pipeline completed by 2025 to help Europe diversify its energy resources. "If Turkey would be interested, the door is open," said Israel's Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz. "We are not against the Turks, but we are very much in favor of the EastMed gas pipeline project."  (Reuters)
        See also EastMed Gas Pipeline Agreement Signed at Greece-Cyprus-Israel Summit
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Athens on Thursday: "This is a historic day for Israel....We call on any other country that wishes to join us to do so. Italy will be added first, but also Egypt and any other country that is interested in doing so."  (Prime Minister's Office)
        See also Turkey Slams Gas Pipeline Deal between Israel, Greece and Cyprus
    "Any project disregarding Turkey, who has the longest coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the Turkish Cypriots, who have equal rights over the natural resources of the Island of Cyprus, cannot succeed," Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Hami Aksoy said Thursday. (Daily Sabah-Turkey)
  • Turkish Parliament Approves Sending Troops to Libya
    On Jan. 2, 2020, the Turkish parliament approved granting the government authority to send soldiers to Libya. A Dec. 27, 2019, article in the Turkish daily Yurt listed six countries hosting Turkish military bases: Syria, Iraq, Azerbaijan, Somalia, Qatar, and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is recognized only by the government of Turkey. A 2017 report by PricewaterhouseCoopers said Turkey has the world's second highest proportion of forces deployed beyond its borders, after the U.S. (MEMRI)
        See also Greece, Israel and Cyprus Call Turkey's Planned Libya Deployment a "Dangerous Escalation" (Reuters)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel Air Force Struck 54 Targets in Syria, 900 in Gaza over Past Year - Anna Ahronheim
    Israel has struck 54 targets in Syria and 900 in Gaza over the last year, according to the IDF. Palestinians in Gaza fired 1,295 rockets at Israel in 2019, most during 12 violent rounds of confrontation. 85% of the 478 rockets fired toward residential areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
        In the West Bank, there were 51 terror attacks in 2019, compared to 76 in 2018. They included 19 shooting attacks and 12 stabbing attacks. (Jerusalem Post)
  • The Palestinian Rocket Arsenal in Gaza - Anna Ahronheim
    According to Israeli intelligence assessments, following several rounds of fighting between Israel and Hamas over the past year and airstrikes against Hamas weapons warehouses, the number of Hamas rockets has been reduced to 5,000-6,000, including dozens with a range of over 100 km. and hundreds with a range of 80 km. Palestinian Islamic Jihad is estimated to have 8,000 rockets, most of which are shorter range. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Erdogan's Desperate Gambit in Libya - Oded Granot
    Turkish President Erdogan plans to deploy troops to Tripoli, Libya, in a desperate attempt to shift the balance of power in the civil war in favor of the side with an overtly Islamist government against retired Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.
        The battle experience of Haftar's army, the larger sums of money the Saudis have given him, the close assistance he is getting from Egypt, and the drones he has received from the UAE have helped Haftar seize almost all of Libya. Ahead of a final push to conquer Tripoli, Haftar has received military aid from Russia. And precisely as he did in Syria, Putin sent more than 1,000 mercenaries from the "Wagner Group" to assist Haftar.
        The truth is that the Turkish-Libyan alliance isn't an indication of Erdogan's power, rather the exact opposite. It is a reflection of his desire to ease his isolation and buy another friend, aside from Turkish Cyprus, which is his only other ally in the Eastern Mediterranean. Israel won't mourn the fall of Tripoli if Haftar takes it. His victory would unquestionably annul Tripoli's new maritime agreement with Turkey that threatens a planned underwater gas pipeline to Europe - a joint project of Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Israel. The writer headed the Middle East desk and was senior commentator at Israel Television - Channel 1 (2001-2017). (Israel Hayom)
        See also Turkey Enters Libyan Escalation Spiral at Great Risk - Micha'el Tanchum
    The writer is a senior associate fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Studies and a fellow at the Truman Institute at Hebrew University. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Reevaluating the U.S. Relationship with the Iraqi Government - Michael Pregent
    It is time to reevaluate our relationship with the Iraqi government while supporting the Iraqi people, who have been protesting a government they view as beholden to Tehran. Instead of condemning Kataeb Hezbollah for launching rocket attacks on an Iraqi base on Dec. 27, killing an American, the government of Iraq condemned the U.S. for defending itself against a terrorist organization that answers to Iranian Maj.-Gen. Qasem Soleimani, and one that Baghdad is powerless to control or to which it is simply beholden.
        On Dec. 31, Abu Mahdi al-Mohandes, the commander of Kataeb Hezbollah, walked into the Green Zone in Baghdad unopposed and attacked the U.S. Embassy with his militia and several others under his control. The government did nothing to stop him. The writer, a former intelligence officer who served in Iraq from 2005-2010, works on Iranian-sponsored terrorism as a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. (Jerusalem Post)
  • Israel and Hamas Are Not on the Verge of a Historic Agreement - Ben Caspit
    Contacts between Israel and Hamas, which is committed to Israel's annihilation, are definitely underway, but the sides are not on the verge of a historic agreement. They are aiming for a period of calm, leading to some alleviation of Gaza's economic crisis and relative quiet for Israel's Gaza border communities. Hamas will have a hard time enforcing a total cease-fire on the rogue factions in Gaza. Nonetheless, the sides are nearer an arrangement than an escalation. (Al-Monitor)
  • The U.S. Is Keeping the Promise Made at San Remo in 1920 - Eugene Kontorovich
    At San Remo in 1920, the international community promised the Jews a "national home" in Palestine, and an explicit right to "settle" throughout the territory, which included Judea and Samaria. It was left entirely up to the Jews to translate the international promises into facts on the ground, and in 1948 they partially did so, though with much of the territory, including the holy sites, falling to the Jordanians. After Israel retook these territories in 1967, much of the international community pretended its earlier guarantees did not exist.
        President Trump's recognition of a united Jerusalem, and Secretary of State Pompeo's conclusion that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are not war crimes, represent a proper understanding of the legal significance of the League of Nations Mandate. More importantly, they are perhaps the first leaders who refuse to subordinate Israel's legal rights to political blackmail from Arab states. The writer is a professor at George Mason University Law School and director of its Center for International Law in the Middle East. (Jerusalem Post)

  • Anti-Semitism

  • We Thought Anti-Semitism Was No Threat to U.S. Jews. We Were Wrong - Eric H. Yoffie
    Anti-Semitism is back, and Jews everywhere in America are concerned. Jews have been in this movie before, and their antennae are up. America was supposed to be different, but now the possibility is beginning to emerge that it is not.
        Anti-Semitism is not a single phenomenon with a single source, but multiple things happening at once. There is the anti-Semitism of white nationalism, a bigotry of the right. There is the anti-Semitism of intersectionality, a bigotry of the left. There is the anti-Semitism of jihadism. There is the anti-Semitism rooted in anti-Zionism. People hate Jews for a variety of reasons, and that is as true in the U.S. as it is elsewhere.
        Bottom line: Anti-Semitism never disappears from the human heart. And we must fight the deadly toxin wherever we find it. The writer is a former president of the Union for Reform Judaism. (Ha'aretz)
  • Understanding American Anti-Semitism - and Fighting Back - Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
    The shocking events in Monsey, together with those in Jersey City, Poway, and Pittsburgh, are proof that the darkness has returned. It has returned likewise to virtually every country in Europe. That this should have happened within living memory of the Holocaust, after the most systematic attempt ever made by a civilization to find a cure for the virus of the world's longest hate - more than half a century of Holocaust education and anti-racist legislation - is almost unbelievable.
        Cyberspace has proved to be an effective incubator of resentment. The Internet is particularly dangerous for loners, people in whom the normal process of socialization - learning to live with others who are not like us - has broken down.
        When bad things happen, bad people ask, "Who did this to me?" They cast themselves as victims and search for scapegoats to blame. The scapegoat of choice has long been the Jews. For a thousand years, they were the most prominent non-Christian minority in Europe. Today, the State of Israel is the most significant non-Muslim presence in the Middle East. It is easy to blame Jews because they are conspicuous, because they are a minority and because they are there.
        Anti-Semitism has little to do with Jews - they are its object, not its cause - and everything to do with dysfunction in the communities that harbor it. The writer served as Chief Rabbi of the UK from 1991 until 2013. (JTA)
  • Jew-Haters, Right and Left - Jeff Jacoby
    The drumbeat of anti-Semitic violence is increasing. At my synagogue, as at many others, an armed guard now stands watch during Sabbath services. There have been physical attacks on Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn for months - "a typhoon of violence," Tablet magazine wrote in July, with "no evident organizing principle behind it aside from pure hostility against targets that are unmistakably Jewish."
        After the shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, the conventional wisdom has been that the most dangerous Jew-hatred is a right-wing phenomenon. But anti-Semitism is equally a phenomenon of the left. When it comes to hating Jews, left and right make common ground. If you condemn anti-Semitism only when it comes from the team you oppose, you haven't condemned a thing. (Boston Globe)
  • American Jews, Meet Jewish History - Ari Hoffman
    Immediately disregard any voice suggesting that anti-Semitism can be solved by something Jews do. If Israel took up less space, we are told, it would be more accepted. If Jews bought fewer apartments in certain neighborhoods, tensions against them would calm. This is nonsense. Anti-Semitism proceeds from what Jews are perceived to be, not what they do. The truth is this: American Jewry has unhappily returned to Jewish history. This is what it has mostly looked like.
        History has also been a record of true allies of every race and creed who saw that a society where Jews are prey is one where the predators will soon come for everyone. (Forward)
  • Ways for Britain's Labour Party to Win Back Jewish Trust - Jonathan Goldstein
    The most painful realization of the recent British election campaign was to discover that, to our friends in Labour, British Jews were ultimately politically expendable. So what now for the Labour Party and the Jewish community? The problem is not only Corbyn but also Corbynism and Corbynites and these remain strong in the party.
        We will look for tangible signs that a new team wants to lead a genuine anti-racist party. A leadership candidate serious about a new direction should adopt a zero-tolerance approach to anti-Jewish racism. Send a clear message by ensuring that any serious offense equals immediate expulsion. There should be a commitment to political education, which should also include a wider commitment to democratic values.
        The past few years have been painful for the Jewish community. Our hope is the UK will return to mainstream politics free from racism nestled and enabled by its leaders. The writer is chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council in Britain. (The Times-UK)
  • Labour's Defeat Has Not Ended Anti-Semitism - Stephen Daisley
    They're coming for the Jews again. They have been for a long time; we just haven't been paying attention. Jews have civil rights, too, and they are under attack almost daily in New York City and around the world. Whether that is from white nationalists, black separatists, Christian bigots, Islamist hate-mongers, or anti-Zionist radicals hardly matters to the victims.
        Modern anti-Semitism comes in four waves. First, there is the attack, then the indifference to the attack, then the exploitation of the attack by those who deem it politically useful, then the downplaying of the attack by those who don't.
        We seldom pause to consider the victim, the impact on his community, the societal failure that allowed this bigotry to recrudesce, and what we should be doing to resist it. Anti-Semitism is the moral challenge of our times and we are not only failing - we are barely even trying. (Spectator-UK)

  • Weekend Feature

  • The Young Women in the First Auschwitz Transport - Renee Ghert-Zand
    On March 25, 1942, 997 Slovakian Jewish teenage girls and unmarried young women were deported on the first official transport of Jews to Auschwitz. Told by Slovakian authorities that they would be going away to do government work for just a few months, the Jewish girls and women were actually sold by their government for about $200 apiece as slave labor. Very few of them survived the war. Their story is told in the new book, 999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz, by Heather Dune Macadam.
        When these previously sheltered young women arrived at Auschwitz, there was little there, and the young women were forced to build the camp under grueling conditions. With bare hands, they cleared land, dismantled buildings, moved materials and did agricultural work. It wasn't long before many of the girls started dying from accidents, disease, malnutrition or suicide on the electrified fence.
        The women of the first transport had an advantage over the Jews who arrived later, many of whom were immediately sent to the gas chambers - including many of the girls' own family members. (Times of Israel)

A Scorecard on the First Decade after the Arab Spring - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah (Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
  • Today, the Middle East is a combination of confused Arab nation-states that have shown their weakness and incapacity to contain the Iranian threat. The instability of Arab regimes allows the formation of sectarian and extremist Islamic militias that threaten the Middle Eastern and world order. The disintegration of the Middle East nation-states has placed the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on hold.
  • Turkey, with its Muslim Brotherhood leader, President Erdogan, has adopted an unprecedented activist and aggressive policy. Turkey was deeply involved in facilitating the introduction of ISIS fighters from Europe and Asia into Syria and Iraq. Turkey's intelligence services were also implicated in the supply and training of jihadists in Egypt and Libya. Turkey's intelligence agents were caught red-handed in Sinai fighting alongside jihadist organizations against the el-Sisi regime of Egypt.
  • This past decade saw the reappearance of Russia as a superpower in the Middle East. Moscow has sought to fill every vacuum and to replace the United States politically with new arms and economic deals. As a result of its massive military presence in Syria, Moscow became the mediator Israel could not circumvent and a force on the ground with whom Israel had to coordinate deconfliction arrangements to prevent unwanted clashes between the militaries of both countries.
  • Illustrative of the weakness of the Arab regimes was their inability to deal with existential dangers. Ethiopia is building the biggest hydroelectric power facility in Africa on the Blue Nile, whose inauguration is scheduled for 2022. The Blue Nile provides 85 percent of the water flow to Egypt downstream. Moreover, filling the Ethiopian dam threatens the water level in Egypt's Aswan Dam, where a severe drop could jeopardize the production of electricity by the dam's turbines. There is little wonder that Egypt has several times contemplated military action against the Ethiopian dam.
  • Iraq has always depended on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In recent years the Iranians have diverted at least 42 rivers and springs of water flowing into Iraq, causing a migration of Iraqis from the water-stricken areas. The Turks have built five big dams on the Tigris. As a result of these projects, Iraq has lost more than 50% of its water. Before 2003, Iraq generated power from 12 hydroelectric stations. Reduced water flow because of Turkey and Iran, coupled with drought and the war with the Islamic State, have left Iraq's major cities with only an intermittent supply of electricity.

    The writer, a special Middle East analyst at the Jerusalem Center, was former Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.
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